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PhD Studentship - Sustainable Development, Community Engagement and Environmental Inequality in the UK

College of Business & Social Sciences - Studentships

Location:  Aston University Main Campus
Contract Type:  Fixed Term (3 years)
Basis:  Full Time
Closing Date:  23.59 hours BST on Friday 03 September 2021
Interview Date:  See advert
Reference:  R210177
Release Date:  Thursday 20 May 2021

Supervisor: Dr Ying Miao

Associate Supervisor: Dr Ed Turner 

Project Reference: EPSRC_MIAO_Environmental Inequality

Applications are invited for a three year Postgraduate studentship, supported by the ESPRC/NERC Research Council and the College of Business and Social Sciences, to be undertaken within the Aston Centre for Europe in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Aston University.   The successful applicant will join an established department working on an exciting interdisciplinary project centred around sustainable development and environmental inequality in the UK. 

The position is available to start in October 2021 or April 2022, subject to negotiation.


Financial Support 

This studentship includes a fee bursary to cover the home fees rate, plus a maintenance allowance of at least £15,609 (subject to eligibility).


Overseas Applicants

Overseas applicants may apply for this studentship but will need to pay the difference between the ‘Home’ and the ‘Overseas’ tuition fees. Currently the difference between ‘Home’ and the ‘Overseas’ tuition fees is £9,750 in 2021/2.  As part of the application you will be required to confirm that you have applied for, or, secured this additional funding.


Background to the Project

Policies on sustainable development affect different socioeconomic strata differently, and its success will depend on systemic inter-dependencies between macro (national), meso (regional) and micro (local) level actors. This project aims to investigate environmental inequalities in the UK, on topics such as energy poverty, pollution, green infrastructure. 

The particular project at Aston is concerned with district heating systems, how these are received by householders and communities, and how district heating system technology can be scaled up.  Your own project should consider similar broad questions – about measures to reduce the UK’s carbon footprint and how these affect communities – but you would be free to choose a particular area of focus, which need not relate directly to district heating systems. For instace, you could investigate practical measures to reduce carbon emissions, the social effects that these have, and how they can best be designed to enjoy strong community support. 

This PhD studentship is funded as a part of an ESPRC/NERC project in collaboration with the University of Nottingham.

The successful applicant will be supervised by Dr. Ying Miao and Dr Ed Turner, but may have an additional associate supervisor depending on the precise area of study chosen.


Person Specification

The successful applicant should have been awarded, or expect to achieve, a Masters degree in a relevant subject with an overall degree classification of at least Merit (or an equivalent qualification from an overseas institution) in Development Studies, Geography, Sociology, Urban Planning, Urban Studies, Politics  or related social science disciplines. Preferred skill requirements include knowledge/experience of sustainable development practices, although prior industry experience is not necessary.


Contact information

For informal enquiries about this project contact Dr Ying Miao by email at


Submitting an application

As part of the application, you will need to supply:

  • A copy of your current CV
  • Copies of your academic qualifications for your Bachelor degree, and Masters degree; this should include both certificates and transcripts, and must be translated in to English.
  • A research proposal*
  • Two academic references
  • Proof of your English Language proficiency


*The application must be accompanied by a “research proposal” statement of no more than 3,000 words setting out your project, how it relates to existing literature, and how your knowledge and experience will benefit the wider research project at Aston.

Details of how to submit your application, and the necessary supporting documents can be found here.  

If you require further information about the application process please contact the Postgraduate Admissions team at 

Closing Date: 3 September 2021 (or until the position is filled) 

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Further particulars and application forms are available in alternative formats on request i.e. large print, Braille, tape or CD Rom.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact HR via

Aston University is an equal opportunities employer and welcomes applications from all sections of the community.



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